Sunday, February 8, 2009

The House That Joko Built - Part 1

This is the farmer sowing the corn,
That kept the the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.
- Nursery Rhyme

For the past few years I have enjoyed the view of the swamp/sawah across from my house. One of my neighbors has a water buffalo and its somehow reassuring to see him every morning, bellowing away while chest deep in the mud. But all that's about to change. A few days ago some folks turned up with survey stakes and some string and proceeded to mark out territory in what I've come to think of as my swamp. Apparently the land has been sold and someone is building a villa on it. I have no real objection to this - They will build something anyway and better a villa than a bengkel (motorcycle repair shop). The project could take a few months depending on the flow of materiels so I thought I would take some photos now, and some more a month or so and see how they get on.

Before any work can be started the accommodation of the staff must be considered. There are about 6 or 7 workers and they assembled this bamboo lean-to from scratch in a couple of hours. Haven't worked out where the water and err... toilet facilities are just yet. Not much in the way of lighting at nighttime either. The mosquitoes must be feasting. Apparently it's cheaper to bring in laborers from Java then it is to hire locals. The disadvantage of course of using imported labor is when you discover faults in the piping 2 months after the house is built these guys will be very difficult to track down.

The work proper. There is enough going on here to keep any critical path analyst busy. There will eventually be a wall where the trench is and the area inside the trench will be filled with crushed stone to make the foundation for the building to come. The limestone piled up next to the road will have to be spread by hand over the entire area - one shovelful at a time. Note the lack of anything resembling power tools. This is all done by hand - very impressive in this heat.

This man is assembling the rebar for the beton bertulang (reinforced concrete). These will be used in foundations to give the structure some earthquake resistance and tensile strength. Each of the cross members is attached to the stringers by means of baling wire.

More rebar. Note the safety footwear.

Eventually there will be a wall where this man is digging. The wall will support the crushed stone that is being dumped in. The guy dug this trench very quickly...about a day and a half from start to finish

Of course any project has its detractors. These bovine former residents look on in dismay at the of the loss of their playground.

As an engineer, I'm rather interested in this project. I was away when my house was being built. From a personal perspective my Father built a house from scratch back in the 80's. Mom and the kids were conscripted into his personal labor force; luckily I managed to avoid most of the draft by having 2 jobs at the time. Dad would have loved these guys.

Hope to update later this week.

My update - 12-feb-2009. Posted 25-feb-2009
I meant to get this in earlier but I had a plane to catch. The boys (and girls) have started on the foundation. These foundation walls are disconcertingly large.

They also started drilling a well. this part of town has yet to be hooked up to the city water supply. Usually they drill to 50 m.

This will be all till I get back. Stay tuned!



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